Friday, February 26, 2016

February 2016 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for February...

1.  I read The Jihad of Jesus by Dave Andrews this month, the review for which you can read here.

2. Coffeewife and I went on a geeky romantic date to see Deadpool over Valentine's weekend, starring Ryan Reynolds as the title character. I started laughing during the opening credits and never looked back. Deadpool is known for his one-liners, breaking the fourth wall, and violence, and this had all of those in abundance. After being diagnosed with cancer, Wade Wilson volunteers for a program that gives him the mutant power of fast healing but also leaves him horribly scarred all over his body. From there he embarks on a mission of revenge which only becomes more complicated when the guy who did it kidnaps his girlfriend. The whole thing is fast-paced, witty, and even at times touching. It earned its R rating and not everyone will enjoy it for that reason, but we sure did.

3. Since I heard about it last year, I've been anticipating the TV version of The Magicians, which premiered on SyFy last month. The book trilogy has been among my favorites in recent years as a college version of Harry Potter crossed with The Chronicles of Narnia, so hearing they'd adapt it to any kind of screen version was welcome news. The show takes great liberties with the source material, at times combining elements from multiple books and adding a lot of extra stuff at others. But the result has still been enjoyable, if not what I expected.

4. My colleague Rob Leveridge released a new album of progressive worship music in January called Sacred Days. Similar to how his previous effort offered a song for each part of a basic Protestant worship service, he offers here a series of songs for important moments in an individual's or congregation's life such as welcoming, baptism, marriage, confirmation/ordination, and memorial services. The theology is once again solid, and musically I found this to be a richer, more diverse album as he includes elements such as strings, electric guitars, and a gospel choir. Each song is very distinct and well-crafted, and I can imagine the setting for which each is written. Here's one of my favorites, "The Waiting World:"

5. I happened across a song late last month by Ane Brun, a Norwegian-born singer now based in Sweden. That first song was enough to get me curious to find out more, and it happened that her latest album When I'm Free was set to be released in North America in early February. The entire album is very good, utilizing a multitude of electronic, pop, and acoustic elements. I've been enjoying it ever since. Here's the song that started it for me, "You Lit My Fire:"